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Good timing helped save hundreds of lives in H1N1 pandemic

Because H1N1 arrived in the spring of 2009, authorities had three months to prepare for the rollout of the vaccine before the flu season peaked in the fall, saving hundreds of lives, according to the analysis. Risk Analytica modelled the pandemic live online from week to week in 2009, and did followup analysis of data, including vaccine distribution and antiviral use. The study will be presented today at the Western H1N1 Roundtable in Edmonton. The Risk Analytica report says that without antivirals and vaccines, the pandemic would have resulted in:

- A 200-per-cent increase in hospitalizations, employee absenteeism, and GDP impact
- A 300-per-cent increase in health care costs and disease burden
- A 400-per-cent hike in the number of deaths

Antiviral and vaccine interventions saved more than $100 million in direct health care costs and $1.6 billion in indirect economic production impacts. Among the report's recommendations is to avoid "normalizing" assessments of future pandemics and to avoid basing future pandemic preparedness on the 2009 H1N1 experience. "The 1957-58 pandemic was 40 times worse than what we experienced last year," said Smetanin.